You usually use Amazon’s Alexa to play music, give weather reports and respond to other household requests. But Alexa has just acquired a somewhat unusual new skill: the ability to bark like a dog.
Alexa’s newfound gruff comes in the form of Alexa Guard Plus, which is a new subscription service launched this week from Amazon to help you turn around your Echo device into a home security system for $ 5 a month or $ 50 a year (after a one month free trial). Alexa Guard Plus may not be as sophisticated as a dedicated, custom-built security system, however the new service can help you make better use of it some of the smart devices you already own.
For general emergencies, Alexa Guard Plus gives you access to a 24/7 helpline so you can ask to get help just by saying “Alexa, call for help.” It praises will direct your request to agents who can notify the right agencies or first responders.
In addition, by using microphones built into Amazon Echo devices, Alexa Guard Plus can detect unusual sounds and send a alert to your phone, and even play a siren on command. With Guard Plus, Alexa’s sound detection is even able to recognize specific sounds such as smoke alarms, broken glass or carbon monoxide warnings, and then ping you around. And in cases where an echo hears an unusual noise, you can play the recording or use the Drop In function to listen to what your echo hears in real time.
However, the real thing Alexa Guard Plus party trick is that when Echo is connected to several smart lights or security cameras and it detects that you are not at home, Alexa can turn the lights on and off to make it look like you are actually there, and even play the sound of a barking dog to scare away potential intruders.
In addition to Alexa Guard Plus, however, there is a free version of Alexa Guard it lacks many of the advanced features available with a paid subscription, including emergency support, activity monitoring, and the ability for Alexa to bark or play a siren when motion or activity is detected.
To Call Protect Plus subscribers, Alexa Guard Plus is included for free. And in the future, Amazon says that Alexa Guard Plus will also be available through a number of home security partners, including Abode, Wyze, Scout Alarm and others.
So on hand, Alexa Guard Plus can be seen as another way Amazon can do strengthen its monthly take. But for just $ 5 a month, the new security service can serve as a useful middle ground between having nothing to protect your home and install an expensive dedicated security system, especially for homeowners with multiple echo devices.